Tag: Will Kennedy

Jets storm into finals with nine unanswered goals against Rebels

NINE consecutive goals to the Western Jets saw the sixth placed side run rampant over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) to end the Rebels’ season on a disappointing note. While both sides were up for the fight, the Jets restricted the Rebels to just four goals after quarter time, while piling on 13 of their own. The complete rout came from the 20-minute mark of the third term as they booted 9.6 to 0.0 to round out the game and storm into the NAB League finals series.

Efficiency going forward was the key between the sides in the first term, with the Rebels having 10 less disposals, but having five more inside 50s. Of the Rebels’ 14 inside 50s, they had six scoring shots on the board, and held a 13-point buffer at the first break. It was Mitchell Jorgensen who got the Rebels going with a lucky bounce in the goalsquare bounding over the head of an overcommitted Jets’ defender back into Jorgensen’s hands who slammed it home for the game’s first major. Up the other end, Archi Manton tried to do the same with creating something out of nothing, but could not get ball to boot and it dribbled across the line. It must have been something in the air because Mitch Martin almost topped everything with a high bouncing dribbler from the tightest of angles which went end-over-end only for it to bounce through and hit the inside of the post

It was not long before Isaac Grant lead out and accepted a neat Matty Lloyd kick inside 50 to make it two in a row, as either side of that Lloyd had a couple of chances on goal but just picked up the two behinds from general play. Finally the Jets got on the board in reward for time in possession with a long kick and quick handball to the running Aaron Clarke in the goalsquare getting them on the board. The Rebels were having none of that though, as Grant soon responded, pouncing on a loose ball and snapping for his second in the opening term and handing the Rebels a 14-point lead. The Jets controlled most of the last five minutes but could only add a rushed behind to their tally as the GWV defence stood up with plenty of high balls inside 50 spoiled away. At quarter time, Darcy Cassar was up to 10 touches, ahead of Eddie Ford and Josh Honey who were used in transition down the wings, while for the Rebels, it was Martin and Mitchell Burgess who had the seven disposals each.

The Jets fought back in the second term, booting a rather inaccurate 3.6 to the Rebels’ 2.2. Clarke and Manton’s strength in the air and at ground level was telling, while the likes of Ford and Honey were trying to create opportunities inside 50. It was the Rebels who could not convert early however, as Grant and Jorgensen missed chances either side of a Manton goal. Manton was on the end of a terrific turnover by the Jets at half-back and ran it down for the competition’s leading goalkicker to capitalise with the extra number inside 50. A nice piece of play from Ford just prior intercepted a handball and got it over to Honey but his snap missed. Riley Polkinghorne soon got the Rebels on the board with a nice end-to-end play resulting in him launching from outside 50 and responding to the Manton major.

A few more Jets misses – first from Harrison Schumann then Nash Reynolds inside 50 – let the Rebels off the hook with back-to-back defensive 50 turnovers, but a third time they would not be so lucky. The ball bounced back inside 50 to Manton who took a strong mark and put it straight through. Ford had a chance of his own in congestion but could not get on the right and it flew out on the full, with the corresponding passage down the wing resulting in a huge flying mark from Liam Herbert who clunked it from the side and then converted the set shot. Ford had another chance from the set shot following a free kick but again it strayed right, before Clarke also followed suit with a behind after a mismatch resulted in a contested grab and shot. It was not long before Western’s dominance with the ball in the forward half paid dividends as Manton snapped around his body for his third of the half and draw within three points. With less than a minute remaining, two terrific defensive efforts from the Rebels – firstly from Jayden Wright backing into Aaron Clarke to spoil and cause a spill, and then Martin laying a perfect technique tackle to win a free, ensured the Rebels remained in front at the half. Cassar and Ford were still the top Jets ball winners, while Ben Hobbs had a massive second term, combining well with Martin through the middle, while Toby Mahony and Josh Dwyer were also having a say.

The momentum the Jets built in the second term continued into the third, with Lucas Failli kicking a ripping goal from a snap after Martin missed just prior to that with a long range shot. Both teams were looking better with their ball movement, but the Jets were clogging up the wings to halt the Rebels where possible, and with the Jets back in front, Manton almost kicked a remarkable mid-air shot from 30m out on the boundary but it bounced through for just one behind. Martin booted his third behind of the day with a chance he would normally swallow up, but Nick Caris made no mistake shortly after, converting his set shot and the Rebels regained the lead by four points. When Rantall ran into an open goal and put it straight through the middle, the margin was 10 points with seven minutes remaining. But that would be the last Rebels score for the remainder of the game as Western took full control of the game. A Will Kennedy dump kick resulted in a great mark over the top from Manton who converted his fourth goal of the game, and a late snap from Billy Cootee from 50m out put the Jets in front at the final break.

The Jets’ momentum had been brewing and it bubbled over in the final term with a procession of goals as Western took full control of the game and it became a party for the sixth placed side. Failli was the trendsetter with another great snap around his body, followed by a huge goal from Honey to extend the lead into double-digits. That followed a Clarke long-bomb himself from outside 50 and when the Rebels dropped a crucial mark inside defensive 50, Daly Andrews swooped in and produced the double cobra celebration knowing his side was now home and hosed with a 29-point advantage.

The Jets were so comfortable they started with the highlight-reel plays as Manton attempted an ambitious 65-metre set shot which unsurprisingly fell short, and then a kick off the ground was just as ambitious from Harley Blake in mid-air. It was not long before Honey’s influence was taking its toll in the forward half with a perfect kick on his non-preferred to Daniel Bolkas who leaned back and converted, then Honey had another goal assist, this time to Failli for his third. Ford was equally as influential in the forward half, but could not find his radar with his third behind of the game, but it mattered little. The Rebels defensive structure had broken down as a deadly turnover inside 50 straight to Mace Cousins who kicked a goal right before the final siren to make it an even 50-point victory. There were not many highlights for the scoreless Rebels in the final term, with Rantall having the sole shot on goal, which despite being on target, was punched over the line and a free against the Rebels handed out anyway.

The final margin was not reflective of the overall game, though the Jets took control after quarter time, and really owned the midfield and gave their forwards enough chances inside 50 to really capitalise. They booted the last nine goals of the game to win in a stampede, almost doubling their score for the game in that last quarter. Honey was best on ground with 24 touches seven marks, eight inside 50s, five tackles, a goal and numerous goal assists, while Andrews worked hard in the engine room to bring up 29 touches, eight marks, five inside 50s, three tackles and a goal. Cassar won plenty of the footy in the back half with 24 touches, seven marks and four rebounds, while Ford was busy in the forward half with three behinds from 23 touches and four marks. Failli finished with the three majors in a big second half, ending the game with 19 touches, while Manton and Clarke combined for six goals and were handful in the air. For the Rebels, Hobbs was the best with 21 disposals, three marks, four rebounds, three inside 50 and three tackles, while Rantall (17 disposals, seven tackles and a goal) and Dwyer (20 disposals, three marks) tried hard, as did Martin (15 disposals, six marks, four inside 50s, four tackles and three behinds).

WESTERN JETS 1.2 | 4.8 | 7.9 | 14.15 (99)
GWV REBELS 3.3 | 5.5 | 7.7 | 7.7 (49)

GOALS:

Western: A. Manton 4, L. Failli 3, A. Clarke 2, B. Cootee, D. Andrews, J. Honey, M. Cousins, D. Bolkas.
GWV: I. Grant 2, M. Jorgensen, R. Polkinghorne, l. Herbert, J. Rantall, N. Caris.

ADC BEST:

Western: J. Honey, L. Failli, D. Andrews, E. Ford, D. Cassar. A. Manton
GWV: B. Hobbs, J. Rantall, J. Dwyere, M. Martin, i. Grant, M. Burgess

NAB League Boys weekend preview: Wildcard Round

IT is a big round of NAB League boys action this weekend, with the Wildcard Round getting underway at Preston, Craigieburn and Box Hill across two big days. There is no turning back for the losers, so for five teams, it is curtains on season 2019, while five others live to fight another day.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday August 24, 11.45am
Preston City Oval

There was always going to be one of the highly-rated top four sides drop out of the automatic finals qualification places and in this case it was Sandringham who finished fifth and face a Wildcard Round elimination final. They meet 2019 Wooden Spooners, Geelong Falcons in the repeat of the 2017 TAC Cup Grand Final. Geelong has had its most disappointing year for some time on wins alone, but outside the win-loss ratio, the Falcons are a much better side than meets the eye. Their last quarter fadeouts have cost them on a number of occasions and the majority of their developing talent are bottom-agers. Not to dissimilar to Eastern Ranges this year, the core of the Geelong midfield will still have a year to go in the system and should be better heading into next year. Coupled with the bottom-agers is overager Charlie Sprague who has been on a goal-scoring spree over the past five rounds, piling on 18 goals in that time – including six last round against Dandenong Stingrays. He comes up against an in-form Corey Watts who, along with the likes of Jackson Voss and forward-turned-defender Charlie Dean will not make it easy for Sprague. Oliver Henry and Charlie Lazzaro provide strong support for Sprague inside 50, with Lazzaro rotating with Tanner Bruhn and Noah Gribble through the midfield. Sandringham’s midfield is star-studded and will take full advantage of their greater experience, with Darcy Chirgwin, Finn Maginness and Ryan Byrnes in the top three midfields of the competition. If the midfield gets on top, then the forwards of Fischer McAsey and Kyle Yorke could have a field day, especially with Miles Bergman, Hugo Ralphsmith and Jake Bowey named in the forward line and who are all capable of picking up midfield minutes. Jesse Clark looms as Geelong’s most important player to try and halt the Sandringham attack, while Cameron Fleeton returns to provide the Falcons with some more stability back there. It is hard to see Sandringham losing this clash, but Geelong played its best game of the season last week, so if they can build on that and start strongly, anything is possible.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday August 24, 2.15pm
Preston City Oval

In the second game of a double-header at Preston City Oval, the Knights host the Pioneers. The Knights are coming off an impressive win over Western Jets in the final round after starting slowly, while the Pioneers started strongly, and had their chances but just went down to Gippsland Power by 10 points on Sunday. The Knights midfield has the upperhand in this game with Northern trio Adam Carafa, Sam Philp and Josh Watson all in good form, while Josh D’Intinosante looms as a key for Northern up forward with 26 goals to his name this season – second over all on the goalkicking charts. James Schischka might be the man to try and stop him, while William Wallace and Riley Ironside have played good defensive roles in the back 50 of late. Brady Rowles was impressive last week and will provide good rebound, while Sam Conforti, Thomson Dow and Riley Wilson can win the pill and hit the scoreboard. Josh Treacy is strong enough to worry opposition key defenders, with Ryan Sturgess and Jackson Davies the two who will likely play a big role in the defence for the home side. Aaron Gundry has been in good form this season, as has Jack Ginnivan and Ben Worme with the former able to kick multiple goals in a game, while Worme can push up the ground and rotate through the middle. Nikolas Cox and Ryan Gardner are another couple of players that must be contained or Bendigo risk conceding a big score, but they will be relieved that Lachlan Potter will miss the season as his run and carry can break games open. Northern go in as favourites at home, but Bendigo beat the Knights at this venue earlier in the season so will be confident they can repeat the dose here.

CALDER CANNONS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday, August 25, 11am
RAMS Arena

In the standalone game at RAMS Arena, Calder host a somewhat depleted Tasmania side in what on paper should favour the fifth placed home side. With Mitch O’Neill already out and the likes of Sam Collins and Oliver Davis missing it means three of their top players will be unavailable for the knockout clash. Jared Dakin has returned to provide some vital leadership, while Matt McGuinness, Patrick Walker and Liam Viney provide good rebound off the back 50. With Harrison Jones, Jake Sutton and Jackson Cardillo inside the forward arc, the Cannons front six will be hard to contain, but the Devils’ forward line is capable of providing impressive contested marking with Jackson Callow and Jake Steele named in the key position spots. Steele can also play in defence if the Devils start to get overwhelmed on the scoreboard, while Sam Banks and Will Peppin are future prospects who have shown great signs. The Calder midfield of Daniel Mott, Sam Ramsay and Ned Gentile should take control of the game given their experience, and if they get first use to their forwards nice and quickly, then the Cannons could put up a big score. Tasmania must remain composed and use the ball well to take advantage of their contested marking talls in the forward line if they are to cause an upset in this game.

WESTERN JETS vs. GWV REBELS
Sunday August 25, 11.45am
Box Hill City Oval

Down the Eastern Freeway, Western Jets cross the West Gate to play the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Box Hill. Western’s defence has won it games in the past, with Lucas Rocci, Darcy Cassar, Cody Raak and Josh Kellett a formidable combination, while Emerson Jeka can play there as well. Jeka has been named in attack, no doubt to stretch the Rebels’ defence with the tall utility likely to cause headaches for undersized defenders. Also in attack is competition leading goalscorer Archi Manton, but the Jets have struggled to kick big scorers on a consistent basis, so quick ball movement forward is key, as the likes of Josh Honey and Eddie Ford can run and hit the scoreboard. The Rebels are more than comfortable in a shootout situation, but showed last week they can win in a slog as well, which will be great preparation for this match. Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin and Cooper Craig-Peters is an underrated midfield and capable of producing quick clearances, while Josh Rentsch is already showing signs as a top-end key forward despite being two years away from being drafted. Riley Polkinghonre and Jack Tillig have been consistent players up either end this season, while Toby Mahony adds a touch of class, and Ben Hobbs is a 2021 draft prospect with a high ceiling. The Jets have overage experience in Aaron Clarke and Daly Andrews on their side, while Will Kennedy has been phenomenal in the ruck. He meets Patrick Glanford who averages the second most hitouts behind Kennedy, while James Cleaver and Matty Lloyd have also remained in the team this season as overagers, playing roles up opposite ends of the ground.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Sunday August 25, 2.15pm
Box Hill City Oval

In what could be the match of the round, eighth placed Dandenong Stingrays take on ninth placed Murray Bushrangers in the second game at Box Hill. The Stingrays head into the game on an eight-game losing streak after sitting at a remarkable six wins and a draw from seven games. They have improved the past month, but were overwhelmed by the last placed Falcons in the wet at Bendigo last weekend. With elimination on the line for the reigning premiers, they must pick up if they are to overcome Murray in this match. The Bushrangers were starting to get back to their best before slipping and sliding – literally and figuratively – to a hungry GWV Rebels side in the previous round. The Stingrays still have plenty of match winners with Hayden Young, Ned Cahill and Cody Weightman in the side, and after spending time in the midfield, have been named back in their most dominant positions of half-back and the latter two, half-forward. Lachlan Williams has consistency to build, but as he showed from his three-goal last quarter in Round 17, can pop up and turn a game if it is tight. Murray is usually a strong defensive side, with Liam Fiore and Ethan Baxter able to nullify their direct opponents, as Charlie Byrne and Zavier Maher provide the run and carry out of defence. Sam Durham, Jye Chalcraft, Cam Wild and Dylan Clarke provide a hard edge to the midfield, while Lachlan Ash is all class and can play anywhere on the ground. Jimmy Boyer and Clayton Gay can play up both ends for their respective sides, while Ben Kelly will try and work over Bigoa Nyuon in the ruck, who will have the athletic advantage in the air. Will Lewis played his first game for the year last week and looked impressive, while Josh Rachele is a Under 16s forward who looms as a top pick in the 2021 draft already.

2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year

OUR 2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year has officially been announced today, with 21 of the 24 players receiving five or more Team of the Week nominations this season. We placed a minimum of five NAB League Boys games, and at least four nominations to make the 24-player squad.

A remarkable eight captains feature in the squad – including five in defence – with Sandringham Dragons’ leader Ryan Byrnes named as captain of the team this year. Byrnes has gone one step better than last year when he was named in the Second Team of the Year, while Lachlan Ash, Trent Bianco and Josh D’Intinosante were the trio to back up their Team of the Year selections last year, with selection this year. Mitch Mellis and Jye Chalcraft followed Byrnes in advancing from the Second Team into the Team of the Year as a top-ager.

In terms of a team-by-team basis, Eastern Ranges and Northern Knights recorded three players each in the side, while Geelong Falcons, Sandringham Dragons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers, Tasmania Devils and Western Jets have two players each. Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons and Oakleigh Chargers have a sole representative in the side.

BACKS:

Brock Smith
Gippsland Power | Five nominations
20.1 disposals, 5.9 marks, 5.9 rebounds, 2.0 tackles

The Gippsland Power captain has been a reliable force in defence, often tasked with the dual role of nullifying a key forward, whilst providing run out of defence. He has kicked a few big goals this season as well.

Matt McGuinness
Tasmania Devils | Six nominations
21.1 disposals, 6.2 marks, 6.2 rebounds, 2.2 tackles

Automatically qualified for the side following his six nominations, and was crucial in holding down a key defensive spot for the Devils despite being medium sized. He can play anywhere on the ground, indicating his versatility.

Lucas Rocci
Western Jets | Six nominations
18.9 disposals, 4.3 marks, 5.1 rebounds, 3.8 tackles

The Western Jets captain had a big back-end to the season, relishing the role in defence where he found plenty of the football, rebounded and laid quite a number of tackles.

HALF-BACKS:

Hayden Young
Dandenong Stingrays | Six nominations
22.4 disposals, 3.8 marks, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 tackles

While Young has pushed up to a wing and even played forward at times, the potent rebounder was at his best off a half-back flank, and leads his team with his actions. Along with Ash, is in the top two elite kicks in the draft crop.

Jesse Clark
Geelong Falcons | Four nominations
21.4 disposals, 4.0 marks, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 tackles

The Geelong Falcons co-captain has been a rebounding force this season, ranked number one for average rebounds in the competition, and has stood up despite him team finishing on the bottom of the ladder.

Lachlan Ash
Murray Bushrangers | Five nominations
22.6 disposals, 5.1 marks, 2.6 rebounds, 4.3 tackles

Rounding out the defence is our fifth captain in six spots, with the Murray co-captain standing out early in the season with his kicking and run-and-carry. He has played in the forward half of the ground and on-ball of late to show off his versatility, but he rarely wastes a disposal.

CENTRES:

Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels | Seven nominations
25.5 disposals, 2.6 marks, 5.7 clearances, 6.5 tackles, 5.7 inside 50s

The draft bolter earlier in the season, Rantall has become a massive influence in the Rebels midfield, using his elite tank and athletic traits to win a truckload of the ball and burst away from stoppages whilst laying a high number of tackles.

Riley Baldi
Gippsland Power | Five nominations
24.3 disposals, 5.4 marks, 3.4 clearances, 3.4 tackles, 3.7 inside 50s

Playing just the seven NAB League Boys games after overcoming injuries and representing Vic Country, Baldi has the least amount of games to his name in the side, but still picked up five nominations from his seven matches.

Ryan Byrnes (c)
Sandringham Dragons | Seven nominations
24.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, 5.5 clearances, 3.6 tackles, 4.7 inside 50s

The Dragons captain is the sixth captain in the side and given he has the equal most nominations with seven, he has earned the captaincy tag. Capable of playing inside or out, Byrnes has been a ray of consistency this season in his 11 games.

HALF-FORWARDS:

Mitch Mellis (vc)
Eastern Ranges | Seven nominations
27.0 disposals, 2.9 marks, 3.5 tackles, 4.0 inside 50s, 9 goals

The midfielder-forward is the vice-captain of the side and is capable of playing full-time midfield or going forward and kicking goals. One thing is for certain, he is a ball magnet and has hardly put a foot wrong this season with a remarkable seven nominations from 10 games.

Jackson Callow
Tasmania Devils | Five nominations
13.2 disposals, 6.0 marks, 1.5 tackles, 2.6 inside 50s, 24 goals

The key position forward is one of just two bottom-agers in the side and has been a marking machine this year working hard inside 50 and pushing up the ground. Callow has booted 24 goals this year, the second most of any forward included in the team.

Mitch Martin
GWV Rebels | Five nominations
17.7 disposals, 3.5 marks, 3.6 tackles, 4.6 inside 50s, 18 goals

The GWV Rebels’ mid-forward has rotated between the two roles this season, winning the ball consistently and also hitting the scoreboard when forward. He is the fourth highest goalkicker in the team with the 18 majors from 13 games.

FORWARDS:

Josh D’Intinosante
Northern Knights | Seven nominations
18.9 disposals, 4.8 marks, 6.1 tackles, 3.8 inside 50s, 26 goals

The dynamic forward has enjoyed a huge season after backing up his 2018 Best and Fairest winning effort as a bottom-ager. He has spent time in the midfield, and gone forward to boot 26 goals in his 14 games, the second most of any player in the competition.

Josh Treacy
Bendigo Pioneers | Five nominations
13.0 disposals, 4.1 marks, 2.9 tackles, 6.1 hitouts, 13 goals

The second bottom-ager in the side fills the other key position forward slot after a strong season in attack for the Pioneers. In 14 games, Treacy has booted 13 goals, but works hard to find the ball and have an influence inside 50 outside of pure scoreboard influence.

Charlie Sprague
Geelong Falcons | Four nominations
15.1 disposals, 4.4 marks, 2.5 tackles, 24. inside 50s, 21 goals

The taller forward has been enjoying his past six weeks, booting a bag of six majors last week, which followed four consecutive matches of three-goal hauls. His consistency to hit the scoreboard is as good as anyone’s and just from 10 games as well.

RUCKS:

Will Kennedy
Western Jets | Five nominations
17.0 disposals, 4.4 marks, 35.1 hitouts, 3.8 clearances, 3.6 tackles

The clear standout statistical ruckman all season, Kennedy has monstered many of his opponents week-in, week-out, also picking up a truckload of the ball. Not only does he win the hitouts, but he gets around the ground, finds the ball and lays tackles.

Zak Pretty
Eastern Ranges | Seven nominations
26.6 disposals, 2.4 marks, 6.2 clearances, 4.4 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s

The number one ball winner in the competition has amassed a massive 372 disposals this season, and also ranks number one in clearances. Pretty has enjoyed a consistent season and one of a damaging trio of Eastern Ranges players.

Sam Philp
Northern Knights | Six nominations
22.9 disposals, 3.7 marks, 5.6 clearances, 5.6 tackles, 3.1 inside 50s

The inside midfielder has been a standout this season for the Knights, earning a National Draft Combine invitation after being left out from the Vic Metro squad. He is ranked third overall for total disposals and clearances in the NAB League Boys competition.

INTERCHANGE:

Trent Bianco
Oakleigh Chargers | Four nominations
27.0 disposals, 5.3 marks, 4.4 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s, 5.1 rebounds

After making last year’s Team of the Year, Bianco has backed up the effort with another nomination despite playing just eight games. He has been superb as co-captain for Oakleigh playing both in defence and through the midfield.

Jye Chalcraft
Murray Bushrangers | Four nominations
21.7 disposals, 2.8 marks, 3.9 tackles, 5.5 clearances, 3.1 inside 50s

Spending more time in the midfield this season, Chalcraft has picked up the second most total disposals and clearances this season, and has shared the load with the balanced Murray midfield.

Jackson Davies
Northern Knights | Five nominations
19.3 disposals, 6.1 marks, 2.9 tackles, 5.0 rebounds

The eighth captain to be named in the side, Davies has enjoyed a strong season since missing out on Vic Metro selection, standing tall in the Knights’ defence winning the ball, taking intercept marks and rebounding.

Angus Hanrahan
Sandringham Dragons | Four nominations
24.6 disposals, 6.8 marks, 3.6 inside 50s, 3.0 rebounds, 14 goals

The versatile utility has played just about everywhere this season and put his name well and truly into draft contention after missing out last year. He is one of only three overagers in the Team of the Year.

Sam Ramsay
Calder Cannons | Four nominations
23.3 disposals, 4.2 marks, 4.6 tackles, 3.2 clearances, 3.1 inside 50s

Ranked top five in disposals, Ramsay has been an influence on the outside and is one of the more consistent players, having a purple patch later in the season and assisting in Calder’s revival up the ladder.

Lachlan Stapleton
Eastern Ranges | Five nominations
23.0 disposals, 2.3 marks, 6.8 tackles, 5.1 clearances, 4.6 inside 50s

The third of the damaging Eastern Ranges trio earns a place in the squad after another great season as that tackling midfielder who earns plenty of clearances with his touches.

SECOND TEAM OF THE YEAR:

The NAB League Boys Second Team of the Year is lead by the Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons and Western Jets who have three players each in the team. Dandenong Stingrays, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers each have two, while the Eastern Ranges, Northern Knights and Tasmania Devils have a player each. Sandringham Dragons did not have a player in the side after both nominees made the first team. Calder Cannons’ Brodie Newman was named captain of the side.

2019 Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year 48-player squad announced

DRAFT Central has announced its 2019 NAB League Boys Team of the Year squad today, with the final team and Second Team of the Year to be announced on Friday. The Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Year takes into account the top performers across the NAB League season, not incorporating any performances at school football or National Under-18 Championships, which is why some top-end stars that have missed most of the season through school football such as Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Finn Maginness and Fischer McAsey are not included in the side.

We also placed a five-game minimum on any player to qualify for our Team of the Year, and based our selections off the Draft Central NAB League Boys Team of the Week nominations. Of the nominations, five players received a massive seven Team of the Week nominations, with four players named six times throughout the season. These nine players automatically qualify for the side. From the remaining 39 players, every one had at least three nominations, with players requiring at least FOUR nominations to make the first side. Each player who does not make the first side is named in the second side.

In terms of club-by-club nominations, Western Jets had the most with five players making the squad, with Bendigo Pioneers, Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Northern Knights all recording four players. Due to school football, Oakleigh Chargers (three), Sandringham Dragons (two) and a lesser extent Dandenong Stingrays (three) had more of a shared contribution across the season, while Tasmania Devils had three players named in their debut season.

Of the 48 players, Mitch Mellis, Lachlan Ash, Jye Chalcraft, Josh D’Intinosante, Trent Bianco and Ryan Byrnes made the Team of the Year squad last year, with Ash, D’Intinosante and Bianco all making the first side with the others slotting into the second team.

DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE BOYS TEAM OF THE YEAR FULL SQUAD:

Bendigo [4]: Jack Ginnivan, Aaron Gundry, Josh Treacy, Riley Wilson.

Calder [4]: Ned Gentile, Daniel Mott, Brodie Newman, Sam Ramsay.

Dandenong [3]: Ned Cahill, Lachlan Williams, Hayden Young.

Eastern [4]: Ben Hickleton, Mitch Mellis, Zakery Pretty, Lachlan Stapleton.

Geelong [4]: Jesse Clark, Oliver Henry, Charlie Sprague, Henry Walsh.

Gippsland [4]: Riley Baldi, Tye Hourigan, Fraser Phillips, Brock Smith.

GWV [4]: Cooper Craig-Peters, Mitch Martin, Riley Polkinghorne, Jay Rantall.

Murray [4]: Lachlan Ash, Jimmy Boyer, Jye Chalcraft, Cam Wild.

Northern [4]: Jackson Davies, Josh D’Intinosante, Sam Philp, Ryan Sturgess.

Oakleigh [3]: Trent Bianco, Lochlan Jenkins, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

Sandringham [2]: Ryan Byrnes, Angus Hanrahan.

Tasmania [3]: Jackson Callow, Oliver Davis, Matt McGuinness.

Western [5]: Darcy Cassar, Josh Honey, Josh Kellett, Will Kennedy, Lucas Rocci.

NAB League Boys Round 16 preview – Teams jostle for position ahead of Wildcard Round

THE penultimate regular season round of NAB League action sees just eight of the thirteen teams set to take the field, with time running out to gain valuable ladder position. In its final home and away fixture, Tasmania hosts Geelong in a bottom two clash, while Oakleigh looks to take another step towards top three qualification against Western, Eastern will hope to secure top spot against Dandenong, and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) hosts Bendigo.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday August 3, 10:30am
Box Hill City Oval

The chance to remain within the hunt for top three qualification looms for Oakleigh as they ready themselves for a clash with Western on neutral territory at Box Hill City Oval. The Chargers continue to grow towards full strength in the final two rounds, which makes them an even scarier proposition for a Western side coming off a 72-point smashing at the hands of Murray. The Jets have plenty on the line too, though, with the top eight squeeze firming and some pride on the line after their last outing. They are set for at least four changes with some key talent returning to the side in the form of Lucas Rocci and Josh Kellett down back, as well as Aaron Clarke and Eddie Ford up forward. On the other hand, Oakleigh will be without co-skippers Trent Bianco – quad injury – and Dylan Williams back injury – but draft bolter Cooper Sharman is sure to plug that hole at full forward. Under 16 All Australian Alex Lukic also remains in the side for his second outing and should provide some goals as 23rd man. The tall timber of Western looks a threat though, with the likes of Clarke, Archi Manton, and Will Kennedy all able to provide a presence inside 50 – not to mention Emerson Jeka, who has been named at centre half-back. It will be interesting to observe the battle of a few midfield movers too, with Josh Honey and Daly Andrews set to clash with Bianco and Jeromy Lucas in a direct top and over-ager battle. Whichever way it goes, expect Oakleigh to be on form and Western keen to show some of their own.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday August 3, 11:30am
North Hobart Oval

North Hobart Oval is the scene for a bottom-two clash on Saturday, as Tasmania plays host to Geelong in what is set to be a tight tussle. The sides are yet to meet this season, but form can be identified in the losing streaks in excess of six games for either team. Still, the Falcons have been largely competitive bar some final-quarter fade outs, and the same goes for Tasmania on home turf until recent weeks. The Devils are set to regain Under 16 Division 2 MVP Sam Banks and hand fellow representative Baynen Lowe a debut, which should add depth to their midfield rotation and free up the likes of Sam Collins to get a solid run through there. Geelong will also be buoyed by news at the selection table as Jay Dahlhaus returns from a long-term injury having been named in the forward pocket. A shuffling of the magnets also looks likely, with co-captain Jesse Clark set for some midfield minutes as bottom-ager Cameron Fleeton grows in confidence across half-back, while Oliver Henry lines up beside him. While results have not gone their way and bottom place is cemented, the talent of the Falcons’ bottom-age pool is promising and should pose some problems for the competitive Tasmanian outfit. It looms as both sides’ best chance to snatch a late-season win, so expect them to be up for it.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. EASTERN RANGES
Saturday August 3, 2:00pm
Shepley Oval

A win against reigning premiers Dandenong when the two sides meet on Saturday would secure top spot for Eastern, with the home side coming in on a sizeable losing streak. Although the Stingrays’ six game skid makes this clash seem like an ideal chance for the Ranges to claim a straightforward victory, the return of Dandenong’s top-end talent has seen them perform more competitively over the last fortnight. On the other hand, Eastern’s six game winning run was snapped at the hands of Oakleigh last time out, but the Ranges remain the benchmark team at this stage. The Ranges’ style of play allows their strong forward line to feed off quick and repeated inside 50 entries, but returning All Australian Sam De Koning is sure to give them stiff opposition despite being named forward, while Bigoa Nyuon holds down a ruck spot in Bailey Schmidt‘s absence and Blake Kuipers remains at full back. It’s rare that a side’s tall versatility looks likely to overpower the Ranges, who will look to get on top in the midfield battle and take that out of the equation. Along with their core of consistent ball winners, the visitors are set to blood another Under-16 gun in the form of Jake Soligo, who joins fellow Vic Metro representative Tyler Sonsie in the 23. This looms as one of the games of the round, with Dandenong slowly getting on the up but Eastern always consistent. We know what to expect from the Ranges, it is a matter of how much of a challenge the Stingrays can mount.

GWV REBELS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Sunday August 4, 1:00pm
Mars Stadium

Sunday’s sole fixture sees the two better placed bottom-four sides do battle, as GWV hosts Bendigo to see out the penultimate round. While Bendigo broke through for an impressive upset win over Northern last week, GWV fell just short of its own unlikely victory in a four-point loss to Calder despite leading at every other break. The Rebels will again have the benefit of being able to lean on its top-end representative talent, with Bendigo also looking to regain its guns at the pointy end of the season but competing well recently with its evenness across the board. One of the stories of the round comes from Bendigo’s team selection, with twins Cooper and Hugh Hamilton named to make their debuts together. Both represented Vic Country in the Under-16 national carnival with Cooper named All Australian, and the 15-year-olds should add a mix of spark and combativeness to the lineup. Their Country teammate Charlie Molan is also set to debut, lining up for the Rebels as 23rd man and joining Under 16 stars Ben Hobbs and Josh Rentsch in the team. The Rebels will need to bring a good team spread to the table if Bendigo provides the same willingness it did against Northern, with the focal points of Jay Rantall, Mitch Martin, and Toby Mahony in midfield leading the way. This should be a close one, with the sides really evenly matched.

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 15

IT may have been a shortened round of five games, but there was no such shortage of talent on show in Round 15 of the NAB League. There was a diverse range of standouts this weekend, so here are out notes highlighting representative squad members, under-agers, and a few standouts from each game. Each note is the opinion of the individual writer.

Tasmania Devils vs. Sandringham Dragons
By: Peter Williams

Tasmania:

#3 Oliver Davis

Worked hard through the midfield and like many of the Devils’ midfielders, pushed back into defence where possible. He was able to intercept the ball by being in the right place at the right time early in the game, and then did so again later on at half-forward where he set up a target with a neat kick inside 50. He offered himself as an option in the chain moving the ball forward, was able to provide quick hands in close throughout the game, and was one of Tasmania’s best.

#7 Matt McGuinness

Another workmanlike performance from the tall defender who was more often than not composed with ball in hands in the back 50. At times his disposal could go array, such as a turnover in the third term straight to a Dragons’ opponent, but his launching left foot kick-outs broke open the game with some efforts almost reaching the centre circle. Patrolled the defence and took a number of intercept marks propelling the home side forward.

#13 Sam Collins

So strong one-on-one, he stands up in tackles and was a presence around the stoppages. He moved well through the midfield sharing his disposal-winning ability between both the inside and outside. His hands in close were a highlight of his game, and was productive throughout.

#25 Jackson Callow

Had a tough day at the office but not through lack of want or trying because he was one of Tasmania’s best once again. Instead, it was more the case of often he was double-teamed inside 50 with the Devils looking to him as a target the majority of the time and the Dragons defenders identified that and at most marking contests sat someone in front of him or came across as a third-man to spoil. Regardless, Callow booted the one goal – Tasmania’s first of the game and one of his few one-on-one contests – after great body positioning. He had a massive first term working up teh ground, winning the ball in each of the thirds, and then kept presenting throughout, but most of his marks had to come up the ground given the body pressure on him inside 50. He almost had a second with a quick snap in the third term but it fell short, and tried to set up a goal to Rhyan Mansell early in the fourth with a quick handball but the snap missed. One of the top key position options next year.

Sandringham:

#2 Darcy Chirgwin

Returned from injury at the AFL Under-18 Championships with a strong first half before being managed in the second half. After a big impact in the middle, he also went forward and provided a presence, setting up Angus Hanrahan inside 50 for a goal in the third term. He was able to fire out quick handballs from stoppages and was strong overhead, able to not only hold his ground in marking contests, but also stand up in tackles. Possesses a nice kick and good decision making to hit up a target from half-back to half-forward straight down the middle in the second term.

#5 Ryan Byrnes

One of Sandringham’s best on the day, leading from the front. The biggest differential between Byrnes and a lot of midfielders is is ability to use either foot when coming out of stoppages. He just uses the foot from which side he has been forced to lean onto in order to get his clearances away – and he had a truckload. The most dominant midfielder on the ground, Byrnes set up that many teammates for scoring opportunities, he was like a playmaker in the attacking half – they included goals to Riley Bowman in the first term and Jake Bowey in the fourth term, and an unlucky miss to Miles Bergman in the last term as well who probably should have rewarded the effort with the straight forward set shot. He kicked a goal of his own late in the second term after marking, being called to play on and snapping around his body truly. Worked cohesively with Riley Bowman and Jack Bell at ruck stoppages.

#6 Miles Bergman

Had a solid game throughout the four quarters and just kept popping up with some nice moments, but should have had a bigger day with some set shot misses he will no doubt want to take again. He kicked a terrific goal in the third term with a snap from a forward stoppage showing all class, but missed the two easier shots – one in each of the bookend quarters – both within 30m out straight in front or on a slight angle. His field kicking was good and he kept presenting high up the ground, opening the game up at one stage in the fourth term with a delightful kick into the middle on that 45-degree angle to hit-up Jack Bell.

#15 Angus Hanrahan

Clearly the best on ground once again and just seemed to do it all. Played off half-back, pushed up to the wing and then went forward in the second half to finish off with three goals. His highlight-real moment came late in the fourth term with a clean pick-up, gather and nice checkside snap near the behind post to kick his third major of the day. His other two goals came from set shots just inside 50, the second of which he won for a free kick after holding his ground in the marking contest and earning a chopping the arms free. He zipped around the ground racking up the touches off half-back and running into space, and whilst most of his disposals were won in uncontested situations, he used his composure and skill to hit-up teammates down the field. He provided run and carry and made good decisions going forward, even showing off some candy late in the game to hit-up Darcy Chirgwin inside 50.

#28 Riley Bowman

Shared the ruckload with Jack Bell and importantly got forward to kick a couple of goals. He took a terrific towering grab in the first term to grab it cleanly in the air and slot the set shot from 40m out, then kicked his second major midway through the second term with a snap around his body in general play. His best work was done in the ruck however, time and time again winning the hitouts and double-tapping it to the path of a running midfielder – usually Ryan Byrnes – and worked hard to also take some intercept marks and win his fair share of the ball around the ground. He and Bell proved a handfull for the Devils.

#32 Jack Bell

Teamed well with Riley Bowman and set up the first goal with a terrific hitout at the first centre bounce to get it to Ryan Byrnes who delivered inside 50. For a big man he showed composure with clean hands under pressure, and positioned himself well in marking contests. Missed a set shot early in the game after taking a good mark going back with the flight, but then capitalised in the final term with a good chest mark by protecting the drop zone, and kicking an easy goal straight in front. Ruckwork was impressive and kept moving as a target through the middle.

#43 Jake Bowey

An exciting bottom-age prospect who looks dangerous when he has the ball-in-hand because of his zip. He played mostly on a wing where he was able to win some early touches and showed clean hands in the wet to hit-up Ryan Byrnes for a goal late in the second term with a great kick and nice vision. Sometimes he can miss his targets by foot, but the kick is still well placed to their advantage, and he does try and take that high risk-high reward kick when going inboard. Bowey uses his body well and showed off his composure in the third term with a clean pick-up late in the third term, stepping around an opponent and snapping over his shoulder for a goal. Set up Jack Bell in the fourth term with a kick to his advantage at the top of the goalsquare. Has time and space in the midfield and weighs up where to put the ball to best advantage his team.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Gippsland Power

Dandenong:
By: Craig Byrnes

#2 Hayden Young

We have seen on numerous occasions what the likely top five draft prospect can do behind the play, but Young showed on Saturday that his stoppage attributes could be a tad undersold. Starting on the wing, he had some nice moments on the outside before spending more time inside where he came to life. He won some brilliantly clean clearances in the second term that started dangerous forays forward for Dandenong, highlighted by a one touch collect at pace and superb hit inside 50. He used his aerial nous at half forward when the opportunity presented, reading and intercepting the high Gippsland defensive 50 exits when in his area. He attempted to take on Ryan Angwin in the fourth term and got caught holding the ball, but got straight up to chase down Ryan Sparkes and executed a spectacular diving smother. He finished the day with 26 disposals and a goal in a near best on ground display.

#11 Ned Cahill

After missing a risky kick in the defensive arc early in the game, Cahill was back to his busy and efficient self spending a majority of his time in the midfield. He was smart and clean in tight, extracting the ball with minimal fuss and working hard on the spread. He probably didn’t win the ball in his usual damaging positions, but was creative enough to ensure his 23 disposals were beneficial to his side’s cause. Coming up against a quality midfield that packs plenty of depth, Cahill more than held his own and ensured the likes of Sam Flanders and Riley Baldi were accountable by laying seven tackles.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

It was an interesting day for ‘Biggy’, who had plenty of holes to fill after the unexpected early exodus of Dandenong talls. The late exclusion of Sam De Koning saw Nyuon start in defence on Charlie Comben and he provided some eye catching moments early running off the rapidly improving Power tall. An injury to Bailey Schmidt threw another spanner in the works and Nyuon quickly found himself in the ruck. He dug deep and made the seemingly unexpected move an advantage, consistently getting first hand in the ruck and having an impact at ground level. He ended the day with 14 disposals and 22 hit outs to be one of Dandenong’s best.

#32 Blake Kuipers

It was always going to be a tough day for the Dandenong KPDs having to counter the talented Gippsland talls, but Kuipers more than held up his part of the job. While he played some minutes on the hulking Josh Smith, a majority of his day was spent standing the in-form Charlie Comben. Kuipers didn’t win much of the footy himself, but he managed to keep the Vic Country tall goalless and have minimal impact despite plenty of Gippsland entrances. His aerial decision making was excellent, spoiling when required and taking a couple of great intercept marks when in best position. His kicking was scrappy to say the least with a few poor turn overs, but it’s an area of scope. He looks comfortable in the back half.

#50 Lachlan Williams

Starting mostly on the wing, Williams was influential in collecting 21 disposals and kicking two goals. He got to dangerous positions on the outside and was often involved in long metres gained chains. He worked hard to get out the back of the pack to kick the first goal of the day and took a nice little specky inside 50 during the second quarter, striking a lovely set shot from the arc for his second goal. While he had some excellent moments, Williams had a bit of a mixed day by foot. He shanked and turned some balls over, but the evidence over the year suggests this is an exception to the rule.

Gippsland:
By: Ed Pascoe

#4 Sam Flanders

Flanders played the game with great intent and in terms of attack on the footy he was right up there but was often let down with disposal, with his overall impact being low for his standards. Flanders had some chances to do some damage, with a set shot in the first quarter that did not quite make the distance and a snap at goal in the second quarter that registered a behind. Flanders’ attack on the ball and clean hands were very notable with plenty of players fumbling on the day and not committing, he made a great chase in the last quarter and certainly performed well in that last quarter in terms of attack and intent, even showing a nice spin move out of trouble. Flanders finished the game with 19 disposals and four inside 50s.

#6 Riley Baldi

Baldi had a solid outing playing through the midfield with his attack on the ball and willingness to take the game on a real feature. Like many teammates in the first quarter he had a chance to hit the scoreboard with a set shot just holding up from long range. He had some nice bits of play in the second half with a nice shark from a stoppage and a nice long clearing kick inside 50, another great bit of play was a lovely pass inside 50 lowering his eyes to hit up the leading player. Baldi finished the game with 20 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s.

#12 Brock Smith

Smith has been in a purple patch as of late and that continued against the Stingrays with an impressive showing playing as an undersized key defender. Having some talls go down early didn’t help the Stingrays but regardless Smith held strong down back and provided great counterattack on the rebound, Smith’s work overhead was strong and his body work too good for any smaller player he came up against and at this stage is proving to be Gippsland’s most valuable player. Smith’s disposal at times let him down but more often than not hit his targets and picked good options. Smith finished the game with 21 disposals, eight marks and nine rebound 50s.

#17 Charlie Comben

Comben had a rough day at the office in a game where Dandenong lost their best key defender before the game and their ruck early on. It seemed everything aligned for Comben to have a big game but it just didn’t quite click for him. Comben was one of many players in the first quarter to have a shot at goal that didn’t make the distance but that came off a very nice lead up mark. Comben showed his aerial skills with his overhead marking a feature but what really impressed was his clean hands at ground level for a tall player with a magnificent gather under pressure in the forward 50 in the second quarter and hand-balling to the running player’s advantage. Comben finished the game with eight disposals, three marks and one behind and he will look to get back into goal kicking form in his next game.

#19 Fraser Phillips

Phillips had a solid game and showed his exciting traits that make him a highly sought after talent. Phillips did not do a lot wrong throughout the game with ball in hand and he also impressed without it with a good tackle that was rewarded in the second quarter to lead to his first goal. His second goal came in the last quarter with a quality gather on the run and classy snap goal showing his speed, class and cleanliness inside 50. His kicking was again a great feature with his laser left foot and I was impressed with one but of play in the third quarter where he took a nice lead up mark on the wing and worked hard to get into forward 50 to be another option. Phillips finished the game with 12 disposals, five marks and two goals.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets
By: Peter Williams

Murray:

#1 Will Christie

Provided a good presence around the ground as a strong ruck effort in the midfield. He showed clean taps and also backed up his efforts by winning the ball at ground level. He pushed his direct opponent by getting forward and being a target, taking a strong intercept mark at half-forward, and then marking 30m out straight in front, but unfortunately missing the set shot. Was a fierce tackler on the day, not afraid to get down and stop opponents in their tracks.

#2 Charlie Byrne

Liked the look of the bottom-ager off half-back, playing the Lachie Ash role to allow Ash to play midfield and forward. He is so clean with his ball use, and positions himself well behind the play. He took a number of great intercept marks, and his left foot was a treat to watch. Whilst he did spend the majority of his time in defence, Byrne kicked a nice goal on the run in the opening term.

#5 Cam Wild

Played a mixture between half-forward and midfield, and had a big impact after a quieter first term, getting his hands on the ball more and ran rampant in the second half. He kicked a lovely running goal in the second term, timing his kick well at full speed to get on the board, then set up a goal to Will Chandler in the third, with a kick that might have been a shot on goal that fell short, but nonetheless it goes in the book as a goal assist. He balanced his disposals well between handballs to open the game up and kicks forward, and burst out of the middle in the third term for a shot on goal but it went to the right.

#6 Will Chandler

Had a couple of highlight runs down the field, taking a run down the middle in the first term but his flying shot on goal went to the left, then had another run off half-back to the wing. He had another flying shot on goal tight on the boundary but missed to the right, then finally got on the board in the third term with a running mark just inside the line and then a snap from a set shot goal. He dribbled home his second goal to bring up the 100 for Murray late in the third term. In the last he took a good intercept mark in the middle midway through the quarter, but then bit off more than he could chew playing on, fending off an opponent but was pinged for throwing the ball. Laid a good tackle in the forward 50 late in the game to lock it up and prevent a rebound.

#12 Lachlan Ash

Had the luxury of mixing between midfield and forward and had an impact in both areas of the ground. He still got back to help out the defence early, running on of defence and using his elite decision making and foot skills to hit up teammates down the ground. Gave off a goal assist to Kade Chalcraft with a wobbly kick that was effective, and after having a big first half in the middle, spent considerable time forward in the second half, kicking a goal after a strong lead and vertical leap to convert from 40m out straight in front. He missed a short just earlier from a tighter angle just inside 50, and tried to squeeze through another later in the term but the kick just lacked the distance and was intercepted in the goalsquare. Ash’s hands at ground level off the deck were lightning to give it to co-captain Cam Wilson to run in for a shot on goal. Prominent as usual.

#14 Jye Chalcraft

Productive throughout the game, Chalcraft ran hard for four quarters picking up plenty of touches and being a staple in the midfield that had plenty of rotations. He would have had good metres gained given his ability to win the pill and take off, or zip around the ground and win a number of possessions in a chain to get it forward. He took a nice mark leading out inside 50 later in the game but his set shot missed, though showed off his work rate not long after, getting into defence and running the ball out with a neat kick. He did kick a goal in the second term by getting creative to kick the ball around his body mid-air and went straight through the middle to answer Western’s second goal late in the term.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Named as Murray’s best and was one of a number of players who could have bestowed the honour after an impressive game. Just kept running hard and kicked three first half goals when the game was hot. Boyer kicked his first after winning the ball in the goalsquare following hard running, turned his opponent inside out and snapped around his body from a few metres out. He kicked his second from the pocket late in the first term with a terrific kick, then his third from a quick play on and goal from 30m out in the second term. Just prior to that he set up Nicholas Irvine with the easiest of goals, winning the loose ball in the pocket and handballing over the top of an opponent to Irvine to run into the goalsquare and kick truly. Boyer had some risky touches in defence such as one in the third term, but his work rate saw him mop it up and help out his teammate after his kick dropped short. Spreads well around the ground and played further up the ground in the second half.

#31 Josh Rachele

Astonishing to think that this kid has two more years left at NAB League level, and it is easy to see how he took home the Kevin Sheehan Medal at the Under-16 National Championships. Rachele is as composed as anyone on the ground and his hands at ground level are like velcro-mits that just scoop the ball up cleanly and fire off handballs to running teammates. Aside from his clean hands, his ability to turn on a dime makes him so damaging because of his agility and then burst speed that burns off opponents, such as he did in the first term with his set shot just missing. Prior to that though he kicked a goal from 30m out straight in front having an impact from the start and setting the tone for his game. He has a damaging left foot that he used to not only capitalise himself, but set up others. He set up a goal to Jimmy Boyer in the second term with a clean handball out of a pack, and could have done the same for Cam Wilson in the third quarter but his shot on goal missed. Rachele booted his second major after kicking the ball into space inside 50 then working harder than his opponent, got forward and marked, before nailing the set shot from straight in front, His third came late in the game off a quick step with just a few minutes remaining in the game. He could have had a couple more as well, with one bouncing into the behind post from a dribble and consistently putting it deep inside 50 to the damaging positions. Had a nice mark in the second term leaping high.

Western:

#7 Daly Andrews

Tirelessly worked throughout the game despite the overwhelming run that Murray provided. He was a steady head in the midfield and won possessions in each third of the ground, having a quick snap on goal at one stage but it missed to the right. Finished with the couple of behinds but the Jets’ equal highest ball winner through midfield. He had a no-frills approach to his footy, getting the ball both on the inside and outside and pushing hard into defence, then getting it in midfield and putting it inside 50 for his forwards.

#18 Emerson Jeka

Had a big first term, taking a number of intercept marks in defence, including a huge pack mark early, though he did miskick off the boot deep in defence, but was cleaned up. He used the ball well kicking long, and provided a presence around the ground taking numerous marks. He was moved forward in the second half and helped set up a goal to Jono Horo in the third term with a neat kick in-board opening up the game for another teammate. In the final term he used good bodywork one-on-one close to goal midway through the quarter, but could not take the mark, though managed to get a handball away. Won a free kick on the wing late in the game and used a nice weighted kick to a teammate at half-forward.

#24 Josh Honey

The most dangerous forward for the Jets, Honey booted three goals, including his side’s two first half goals. he booted Western’s first with hard running onto a loose ball in front of him to boot it from the goalsquare, then converted late in the second term after winning a free kick 45m out straight in front. He kicked a third, and a consolation goal midway through the last, but he kept trying to take the game on, with a bounce late in the match and a long 60m kick, though an opponent spoiled it away from his teammate. He had a couple of chances for more goals earlier in the game but could not quite put it through the big sticks with limited time and rushed snaps.

#26 Cody Raak

The best on ground for Western with clean work out of defence to rack up rebounds on a string in a defence under siege. With the likes of Lucas Rocci, Darcy Cassar and Josh Kellett out of the team, much of the run and carry out of defence was left to Raak and in a game where the Jets were heavily beaten, Raak could hold his head high as a player who played four quarters and kept repelling opposition attacks. A prospect for next year, Raak is a good size and had his best game of the year with eight more touches than his next best, finishing with 24 disposals and 11 rebounds.

#47 Will Kennedy

The overager used all of his strength and ruck nous to dominate the hitouts with another 50-plus hitouts around the ground. Murray did dominate the midfield, and opponent Will Christie was good at ground level, but Kennedy still provided a target around the ground for his teammates. He won plenty of the ball in close and spread to the outside when needed, but was able to set up a scoring opportunity in the second term with a long kick inside 50.

Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: Michael Alvaro

Northern:

#4 Jackson Davies

It is hard to ignore the month of footy that Davies has put together, and he once again proved a standout for Northern. The Knights’ skipper featured consistently throughout with his unmatched reading of the play and sticky hands overhead, while also showing improvement in his use by foot. His first bit of play was a typically strong intercept mark in the first term, and it proved a theme for Davies’ game as he plucked them one-on-one, in packs, and from both in front and behind. His setting up behind the play is what allowed him to do so at such a rate, snapping up everything that came his way backwards of defensive wing. Davies also had a nice moment with ball in hand in the third term, handballing over his shoulder with opponents circling to intelligently find a teammate in space.

#5 Josh D’Intinosante

Was a bit of a quieter game from the small forward/midfielder when compared to his six-goal effort last time out, but he continues to provide value to the Knights line-up. Starting at half-forward once again, D’Intinosante got up the ground well to find the ball early on, but his most effective plays came when charging off the line at centre bounces. His pressure and intent in the tackle was phenomenal, hitting his opponents fairly, but hard. Kicked the one-straight goal, coming from a classy dribbled finish over the back and also had a couple of brave efforts in the air.

#7 Ryan Gardner

It was a steady return from injury for Gardner, who spent a lot of time playing up at half-forward. He started up on a wing though, finding most of his ball on the outer and providing clean use. With his move forward, Gardner led well and showed deceptively strong ability overhead despite not always pulling down the mark. He had most of his touches around the arc, drawing opponents well to flick out handballs and getting involved off the centre bounce.

#23 Nikolas Cox

The bottom-ager has proven a marvel at ground level considering his size, but used all of his height in a more forward-oriented role in this outing. It was a shrewd move, with Cox a nightmare matchup as he marked the ball at its highest point and got good separation on the lead from full forward. He kicked his first of four goals in the first term after a nice clunk close to goal, following up with another set shot conversion on the half-time siren to keep the Knights in touch. After more time up the ground in the third term, Cox returned forward and got on that lead again to find a third goal. Cox’s fourth came differently, showing his athleticism to win a ground ball and snap home a late consolation goal. Plenty to like.

Bendigo:

#2 Jack Hickman

The speedy bottom-ager provided some real spark when running through the midfield, taking the ball at pace and breaking away from congestion. Moving forward, Hickman was a threat with those line-breaking capabilities and got the Pioneers going effectively. Capped a solid day with a goal in the second term as Bendigo broke away to a handy lead, and just does some eye-catching things with his speed and agility.

#11 Aaron Gundry

Had a solid day in the ruck but impressed more with his work at ground level, covering the turf well and getting involved at the drop of the ball. While he didn’t have a massive effect with his marking or crashing of packs, Gundry also looked likely when playing forward and got on the board with a really handy goal in the first term. He read the flight of the ball well, laid a heavy bump on his direct opponent to get him out of the road, gathered the ball and coolly dribbled home into the open goal.

#19 Ben Worme

It was another workmanlike outing from Worme, who was handball-happy in the middle of the ground. He would so often get the ball on the outer of the stoppage, wheel away out the back and dish off to a runner to good effect. The Vic Country representative was also part of the midfield-forward rotation, having a hand in Cooper Smith’s first term goal and getting involved as a half-forward. Worme missed a good chance on goal at the start of the third term as he streamed into the 50 off the back of a handball chain, but made amends in the same term with a lovely long-range snap. Just always manages to find the ball, and is adding strings to his bow.

#22 Josh Treacy

Was again used in a range of roles; starting forward, pinch-hitting in the ruck, and being thrown into a few centre bounces to help combat Northern’s bigger bodies. He still looks most at home up forward though, leading up strongly to centre half-forward and providing a reliable target. Leading from closer to goal in the third term, Treacy took another strong grab inside 50 but was unable to convert the set shot, instead putting through his second chance in the following quarter from a downfield free kick. The versatile big man was also again not afraid to through his weight around, laying hits that bordered on late and tackling hard at the drop of the ball.

#29 Jack Ginnivan

Another lively bottom-ager, Ginnivan racked up the possessions in the forward half, providing dangerous run out the back and linking well into Bendigo’s attacking 50. He worked really hard to work back towards goal after getting up the ground and was not afraid to take the game on. Found the goals for the third-straight occasion, booting just the one set shot in the first term but having a hand in a range of Pios attacks.

GWV Rebels vs. Calder Cannons
By: Michael Alvaro

GWV:

#3 Toby Mahony

Seldom does he win mountains of the ball, but Mahony often stands out with his clean hands in the contest. He got on the end of a couple of nice chains early on in what was a steady start to his game, going on to find a couple of nice touches inside 50 in the second term. Mahony took a strong mark from behind inside the arc but sprayed the kick, and found space shortly after but again put the kick out on the full. He continued to find the ball in-close and got his hands up smartly in tackles while trying to burst through, doing so to good effect a heap of times in the second half.

#7 Mitch Martin

The classy midfield mover was particularly deft in his use by hand, flicking out a couple of eye-catching look-aways to teammates in acres of space after drawing an opponent. His agility and smarts on the ball also shone through, getting boot to ball quickly at the stoppages to clear, while also zipping through traffic and kicking neatly after gathering on the half volley. He capitalised one one of two chances in the second term to hit the scoreboard, first missing a set shot after a 50m penalty but rectifying it with a fantastic crumb and quickfire shot from close range. Capped his game with a fantastic pass inside 50 to Nick Caris from near-on the centre circle.

#13 Jay Rantall

Was back to his ball-winning best in this outing, leading all comers in a dominant display from midfield. Rantall’s initial work was done at the stoppages, chaining handballs and getting some forward run going, while working hard around the ground in general play to find the ball just about everywhere between the arcs on the back of his enormous endurance base. While he did not always have that typical damage and drive in his disposals, Rantall was a class above with his vision from the contest and direction of play in the back half. Rightly earned a National Combine invite and should show off his quality athletic traits.

#14 Liam Herbert

Assumed his usual role of accumulating on the outside and delivered neatly by foot on a few occasions. He missed a couple of early chances to find the goals; first getting on the end of a bad Calder turnover to mark inside 50 but missing the shot, and then intercepting again but missing the lot with his quick snap opportunity. Herbert went on to work hard to find space up either end and provide a key link along the outer, and would be buoyed by his forward impact.

#32 Harry Sharp

The bottom-ager popped up very early on very an electric goal to get the Rebels going, and went on to provide plenty of spark from the wing. Sharp gathered the ball over the back inside 50 and put the foot down to burn an opponent behind him, round one in front of him and snap home an eye-catching goal. He looked dangerous when breaking forward, undeterred by a couple of fumbles when attempting to take the game on. Sharp added to his goal tally with a clever steal and snap through two or three opponents, finishing into the open goal.

#41 Fraser Marris

Marris was another bottom-ager to stand up for the Rebels, showing a happy knack for finding the ball both up the ground and closer to home from his forward starting position. He just so often found separation on the lead working up to the wing, presenting well and using the ball well by foot to link forward. He couldn’t quite take a couple of chances on goal afforded to him, missing a set shot from a downfield free kick in the first term and later missing a snap in the third term. Still had a good impact, especially in the opening stages, and works hard.

#45 Josh Rentsch

The Vic Country U16 representative is impressively mobile for a tall, showing off his best traits in both the ruck and up forward. Undeterred by the more mature bodies of his opponents, Rentsch did well to grab the ball out of the ruck on a few separate occasions and boot forward, while standing up well in the contest. Rentsch worked to get to contests around the ground and presented up from the forward 50. Made a nice pass inside 50 to Liam Herbert on his left foot in the second term, doing things that not many big-men can. Wasn’t quite able to hit the scoreboard, spraying a set shot out on the full but getting in good positions to score.

Calder:

#1 Daniel Mott

Again played more of an extractor role from midfield, handing out to his runners at the stoppages and not being afforded the time and space to get going. He competed well despite being a little quiet to start off, eventually clicking into gear and clearing a few balls by foot from traffic to go inside 50. Mott also showed a willingness to tackle, doing so well at a defensive 50 stoppage in the third term and showing a different side to his game.

#3 Jackson Cardillo

He might only be a bottom-ager, but Cardillo keeps on providing good grunt in the engine room, battling hard to break tackles and applying his own with force throughout the day. He was a little down on some of his recent numbers but still popped up with a few nice touches around the ground – marking strongly on forward wing in the fourth quarter and later faking a set shot to find Sam Ramsay a little further inside attacking 50.

#8 Sam Ramsay

It was another best-on display from Ramsay, who is pretty easy on the eye in full flight. Time and again he found space breaking away from the stoppage, reading the play well to either break forward and receive over the top, or scoot out the back and wheel around onto his left side. Ramsay is hard to stop when he gets on his bike, ending his quick bursts with long raking kicks. While he did so often enough to have an effect, Ramsay could perhaps benefit from mixing up his ball use, with some of his long kicks either cut off or to no one in particular. It is still an effective way to put the opposition defenders under pressure, and Ramsay was simply a magnet to the ball. Has put together a fantastic last month after missing Metro selection, and is doing all the right things.

#38 Brodie Newman

Started to get back to his best in this outing, putting in a more attacking effort in his time down back and proving effective when thrown forward. He started with a daring kick into the corridor in the first quarter and provided a solid kick-in target across the opening half. After the main break, Newman swung forward and got involved straight away with a lead-up mark from a centre bounce clearance. Leading up once more, Newman wheeled around in the centre square, took a bounce and launched long to assist Samuel Paea’s goal in the third term in a great bit of play. He continued to present well and proved too strong for many of his opponents, combining it with good movement at the drop of the ball.

#44 Harrison Andronaco

Kept his spot after a decent showing on debut last time out, and worked into the game well this time around. The 16-year-old did not lay many tackles but made them count, locking the ball in well and earning a holding-the-ball free kick in the third term. His carving forward runs looked dangerous, using subtle signals to fake-out opponents and afford himself that bit of time and space. Ended with 1.2; missing his first shot with a quick snap from congestion and another in the final term, but slotting home late in the third quarter after a clever stop and prop inside 50.

#45 Flynn Gentile

Has been a decent contributor in his three games thus far and just seems to find the ball with ease. Most of Gentile’s work was done on the outside, drawing opponents well when handing off and getting busy in general play with some forward drive. While his kicking wasn’t always sharp, Gentile made a couple of neat passes throughout – including one to find Brodie Newman inside 50 late on. One of a few Cannons 16-year-olds to keep an eye on.

NAB League Boys Round 15 wash-up: Cannons steal points as Murray and Bendigo grab important wins

WHILE two top-tier teams ran away to comfortable wins in Round 15 of the NAB League, a couple of upsets are sure to shake up the standings heading into Wildcard Round. With Murray (ninth) and Bendigo (tenth) getting the better of higher-ranked opponents, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels almost followed suit in Sunday’s sole fixture, just falling short of Calder in an exciting end to the round.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.0 | 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.4 (28)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 6.8 | 11.10 | 13.15 (93)

GOALS
Tasmania: O. Sanders, L. Gadomski, J. Chaplin, J. Callow
Sandringham: A. Hanrahan 3, K. Yorke 2, R. Bowman 2, R. Byrnes, J. Bowey, J. Bell, B. O’Leary, J. Mifsud, M. Bergman

BEST
Tasmania: L. Viney, J. Callow, O. Davis, S. Collins, R. Mansell, M. McGuinness
Sandringham: A. Hanrahan, R. Bowman, J. Bell, R. Byrnes, D. Chirgwin, M. Bergman

Sandringham Dragons have come home from Tasmania with a comprehensive victory over the Devils, running out 65-point winners in Launceston. The Dragons looked ominous early, booting three goals to one in the first term, and had six goals from 14 scoring shots on the board by the main break to Tasmania’s two from three. Angus Hanrahan got involved in the second half with three goals to help the Dragons pile on five majors to one in the third term as they put any doubt of a Devils comeback aside, eventually comfortably getting home, 13.15 (93) to 4.4 (28). Hanrahan was a clear best on ground in the venue next to where older brother Ollie ran out for Hawthorn, with the versatile utility picking up 33 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s, three rebounds, two tackles and converting three goals. Along with Hanrahan, Ryan Byrnes caused headaches around the stoppages on his way to 28 disposals, nine inside 50s and a goal, while Darcy Chirgwin, Jackson Voss and Jake Bowey were all busy throughout the game. Riley Bowman and Jack Bell dominated the hitouts against smaller opponents and gave their midfields first opportunity. For the losers, Liam Viney impressed in defence alongside Matt McGuinness, whilst Sam Collins and Oliver Davis pushed hard in midfield and Jackson Callow kept presenting up forward.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.3 | 3.4 | 4.13 | 6.15 (51)
GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 8.7 | 8.10 | 12.13 (85)

GOALS
Dandenong: W. Bravo 2, L. Williams 2, H. Young, B. Milford
Gippsland: H. Neocleous 3, K. Robinson 2, F. Phillips 2, M. McGarrity 2, J. Smith 2, S. Berry

BEST
Dandenong: H. Young, B. Nyuon, H. Berenger, W. Bravo, N. Heath, E. Cahill
Gippsland: S. Flanders, R. Sparkes, B. Smith, H. Neocleous, Z. Reid, R. Angwin

Gippsland Power strengthened its chances of holding onto a top three spot with an impressive 34-point win over Dandenong in enemy territory. The Power took the lead after nine minutes in the first term and never looked back, extending their 11-point quarter time lead with five goals to two in the second stanza to get well on top. After a quiet patch after the main break where Dandenong managed the sole third-quarter goal, Gippsland kicked away again to cruise to victory. An impressive five of the Power’s six goal kickers found multiples, led by Harvey Neocleous‘ three majors, but it was the Vic Country representative trio of Sam Flanders (19 disposals), Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals, 10 inside 50s), and Brock Smith (21 disposals, eight marks, nine rebound 50s) who did most of the damage in general play. For an improving Dandenong, Hayden Young showed off his prowess around the ball with a game-high 26 disposals and one goal alongside Ned Cahill (23 disposals, seven tackles, six inside 50s). Meanwhile, Bigoa Nyuon covered the late omission of Sam De Koning and an injury to Bailey Schmidt to have 14 disposals and 22 hitouts from the ruck, with Lachlan Williams (21 disposals, two goals) good on the outside. The Stingrays have at least one game in hand against every other side, and will look to climb back up the ranks in their final two fixtures. A tough assignment against ladder leaders Eastern is up next, while Gippsland travels to face Bendigo next after a bye.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 4.2 | 9.3 | 16.9 | 18.13 (121)
WESTERN JETS 1.1 | 2.5 | 3.6 | 7.7 (49)

GOALS
Murray: J. Rachele 3, J. Boyer 3, W. Chandler 2, T. Panuccio 2, C. Wild, L. Ash, K. Chalcraft, N. Pendergast, C. Byrne, J. Chalcraft, N. Irvine, D. Bedendo
Western: J. Honey 3, J. Horo, A. Manton, B. Ryan, D. Grmusa

BEST
Murray: J. Boyer, D. Clarke, J. Rachele, L. Ash, J. Chalcraft, C. Byrne
Western: C. Raak, L. Conway, J. Honey, A. Manton, D. Andrews , E. Jeka

In the Bushrangers’ clear best performance for the year, Murray completely dominated its game with Western Jets up in Wangaratta, putting the top four hopefuls to the sword in a massive 72-point win. The 12-goal win arguably could have been more, with the game done and dusted by the final break with the margin out to 81 points and as much as 87 early in the final term, though to the Jets’ credit they kept fighting and booted four of the last five goals of the game to cut the final deficit to 72. Jimmy Boyer booted three goals from 26 disposals and seven marks, while Cam Wild (29 disposals, one goal), Jye Chalcraft (26 disposals, one goal) and Dylan Clarke (24 disposals, one goal) all hit the scoreboard as well. Charlie Byrne was impressive in defence for the winners, while up forward, Under 16s mid-forward Josh Rachele was super with three goals from 21 touches and setting up multiple scoring opportunities for his teammates. For Western, Cody Raak (24 disposals, 11 rebounds) stood up in the absence of key teammates to continue his good form, whilst overagers Daly Andrews (24 disposals) and Will Kennedy (19 disposals, 52 hitouts) worked hard throughout the midfield, and Josh Honey (16 disposals, 3.2) was the most damaging forward for the Jets in an otherwise disappointing performance.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.7 | 7.8 (50)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 3.1 | 6.4 | 9.7 | 13.9 (87)

GOALS
Northern: N. Cox 4, C. Barbera, J. D’Intinosante, L. McMahon
Bendigo: J. Evans 2, J. Ginnivan, C. Smith, A. Gundry, W. Wallace, E. Roberts, J. Hickman, J. Rodi, B. Worme, J. Treacy, R. Wilson, K. Atwell

BEST
Northern: J. Davies, J. Potter, N. Cox, S. Brazier, S. Philp, R. Gardner
Bendigo: J. Rodi, J. Ginnivan, R. Ironside, J. Hickman, K. Attwell, A. Gundry

Bendigo Pioneers delivered arguably the upset of the round, trumping the Northern Knights by 37 points at Preston City Oval in Saturday’s final fixture. The travelling side edged ahead early on after a tight start and really threatened to take the game away from Northern with three goals to nil in the first twenty minutes of the second term, but late goals to Josh D’Intinosante and Nikolas Cox kept the Knights in with a sniff. The Pioneers delivered an ideal response, again starting well after the main break and grabbing a definitive four-goal buffer heading into the last turn, before adding four goals to two in the final quarter to run away with an impressive win. An impressive tally of 11 individual goal kickers was led by two from Jack Evans, who thoroughly enjoyed celebrating each, with Jack Ginnivan (22 disposals, seven marks, one goal) another to impress in the forward half. Further afield, Jeremy Rodi and Jack Hickman provided great burst from the stoppages, with solid service coming from Aaron Gundry in the ruck. Despite the disappointing loss there were a few standouts for Northern too, with mobile bottom-age utility Cox booting four goals, while Jackson Davies (24 disposals, 10 marks) was again terrific down back and Sunny Brazier (24 disposals, seven tackles) joined Sam Philp (22 disposals) in doing a heap of dirty-work amongst the mud pit of Preston City Oval’s centre square. While the Knights can enjoy a week off before facing Western in their final fixture, Bendigo is set to do battle with GWV in Round 16.

GWV REBELS 3.3 | 5.6 | 7.11 | 8.13 (61)
CALDER CANNONS 2.1 | 4.3 | 6.7 | 9.11 (65)

GOALS
GWV: N. Caris 2, M. Lloyd 2, H. Sharp 2, I. Grant, M. Martin
Calder: M. Fletcher 3, N. Gentile 3, H. Andronaco, S. Paea, J. O’Sullivan

BEST
GWV: I. Grant, J. Rantall, J. Hill, C. Craig-Peters, J. Dwyer, H. Sharp
Calder: S. Ramsay, J. Cardillo, F. Gentile, J. Eyre, J. Hotchkin, H. Andronaco

The GWV Rebels fell agonisingly short of what would have been a deserving upset win on home turf, fading out late to go down by four points to an inexperienced Calder Cannons side in Sunday’s only game. Despite building a steady buffer in each term and leading at every change, the Rebels just failed to hang on in the last as Calder found a second wind to boot 3.4 to their 1.2 and snatch victory. Sam Ramsay continued his outstanding form of late to collect 33 disposals and lay 12 tackles as arguably the best player afield, with only GWV ball magnet Jay Rantall (35 disposals, eight marks) topping his disposal haul. Ned Gentile was another to stand up with 21 disposals and three goals, with bottom-ager Jackson Cardillo (18 disposals) and 16-year-olds Flynn Gentile (21 disposals, six tackles) and Harrison Andronaco (17 disposals, 1.2) giving a promising glimpse into the future. For the Rebels, Izaac Grant had his best game of the year with 20 disposals and a goal, with Jed Hill handy off half-back, Cooper Craig-Peters (27 disposals, 10 tackles) busy through midfield and Mitch Martin (21 disposals, one goal) adding his usual class. GWV now faces a couple of all-country fixtures to see out its regular season, while the Cannons are booked to clash with Eastern in Round 17 after a bye.

NAB League Boys: Round 15 preview – Super Saturday hosts four of five fixtures

A shortened round of action sees just five games set to take place in the NAB League, with four of them to be held on what will be a super Saturday. Sandringham will become the latest Victorian side to make the trip down to Tasmania, looking to roar back into the all-important top three spots. Meanwhile, Dandenong hosts Gippsland in a do-or-die clash, with much of the bottom half of the top eight set for a shuffle as the round plays out.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday July 27, 11:00am
Invermay Park (Tasmania)

A win and already sizeable percentage could help the Sandringham Dragons claw back into the safety of the top three, but a trip to Tasmania and the Devils stand in their way as they ready to clash. Currently sitting fourth, the Dragons snapped a three-game losing streak last week against reigning premiers, Dandenong, and will look to carry a more settled line-up into the back end of their season. In a slight blow to their chances, All Australian swingman Fischer McAsey – who booted three goals against Dandenong – comes out of the side, but the Dragons are set to bolster their midfield stocks with the inclusion of Darcy Chirgwin amongst at least four changes. It means the Devils’ bottom-aged midfield fleet of Oliver Davis, Sam Collins, and Will Harper will have to carry a heavy load against the likes of Sandringham top-age guns Chirgwin, Ryan Byrnes, and Miles Bergman. Tasmania’s key position posts will be bolstered though, with Jackson Callow and Oscar Shaw returning to slot in at either end and cover Sandringham’s tall threats. With the Dragons again looking themselves after a down few weeks, they would be confident of how they match up against Tasmania on paper. But the hosts were no pushovers for much of their clash against second-placed Gippsland in Round 14, and will be typically competitive on home turf.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. GIPPSLAND POWER
Saturday July 27, 11:30am
Shepley Oval

Gippsland Power poses as incredibly stiff opposition in the Dandenong Stingrays’ bid to break a streak of five-consecutive losses, with the two set to do battle at Shepley Oval on Saturday morning. The Stingrays will be buoyed by their ability to compete with Sandringham last week, going down by just seven points in enemy territory but slipping to eighth. While their ladder position remains safe regardless of results this week, they will hope to jostle back up the table to gain a better position come Wildcard Round. That cause was helped by the recent returns of the likes of Hayden Young, Sam De Koning, and Ned Cahill, with Dandenong now set to bring in some over-age strength this week as Jai Nanscawen and Corey Ellison slot into the 23. Gippsland’s Vic Country representatives have returned to NAB League action just as well though, with the Power just about back to full strength and adding some bottom-age talent in the form of Sam Berry and Nicholas Prowd this week. The Dandenong talls are some of the best in the competition and should match up well against those in the Gippsland ranks, but it is the Power’s engine room that looks most likely to rip the game apart with Sam Flanders and Riley Baldi in ripping form. Either way, expect a competitive tussle with top-end class suiting up for either side.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday July 27, 1:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

The final rolls of the dice approach for Western as the Jets look to keep touch with the top three, set to face Murray this week with the Bushrangers all but set in ninth place coming into their final two fixtures. After a bye, the pointy-end competition has caught up to the Jets and knocked them out of a top-four position, but they will boast a near full-strength side as they consistently have throughout the year. Vic Metro representatives Josh Honey and Emerson Jeka are in at either end, with over-agers Will Kennedy, Aaron Clarke, and Daly Andrews consolidating the side’s key position strength and midfield depth. Despite a loss last week, Murray has also benefitted from the return of some top-end talent, and welcome over-agers Liam Fiore, Will Christie and Zane Barzen back into the lineup to help deal with Western’s aerial prowess after Young Guns outings. At ground level, bottom-age jet Elijah Hollands is a big out for the Bushrangers among eight changes, but the versatility of some of their mid-sized prospects will put them in good stead to plug any holes. While they have been a touch down this year given their talent on paper, the Bushrangers have won three of their last five outings and should compete well with their higher-ranked opponent this week.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday July 27, 2:30pm
Preston City Oval

A fifth-consecutive win is up for grabs for the Northern Knights as they play host to Bendigo Pioneers in a rare fixture at Preston City Oval in Saturday’s final game. The Knights have been on a tear of late, enjoying a rich vein of form with much of its representative talent running back through the NAB League 23. Their charge will be hampered somewhat by injuries to small defenders Lachie Potter and Ewan Macpherson, but the Knights are set to regain the likes of Nikolas Cox and Ryan Gardner among at least 10 changes this week. Josh D’Intinosante is also hot off 10 goals in his last two outings, headlining some of the moving parts in the flexible Northern squad. On the other hand, Bendigo looks to steadily be regaining form, getting up in two of its last four tries and being competitive in each. Their Round 15 side has undergone far less changes (four), with the important top-age half-back/midfield core of Ben Worme, Brady Rowles, and James Schischka all finding solid consistency. The Pioneers look flexible in their key position department too, with the likes of Braydon Vaz, Will Wallace, and Josh Treacy all able to impact up either end. Expect to see some players shuffled around throughout the game, as coaches on both sides look to find a winning combination in the lead up to Wildcard Round.

GWV REBELS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday July 28, 1:00pm
MARS Stadium

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) will be looking to grab just its second win at MARS Stadium in 2019 when it hosts the Calder Cannons in Sunday’s only fixture. Despite the strength of the much-improved Cannons, this firms as the Rebels’ best chance to again win at home as they come in off a two-game win streak. Calder has gone one-better of late to have won three-straight and five of its last six games to sit within striking distance of the top three despite boasting a lower percentage. Youth is the theme for this game, with Under 16 Vic Metro representatives Josh Goater, Jack Newitt, and Zac Taylor all named to make their debuts, while PEGS quartet Harrison Jones, Campbell Edwardes, Cody Brand, and Harrison Minton-Connell make way as huge outs. The Rebels look primed to pounce, with over-agers James Cleaver and Matty Lloyd slotting straight back into the line-up to add some experience and depth on whichever line they are required. While ladder position suggests the sides aren’t so evenly matched, form and a changes on either end have levelled the ledger to make this clash an interesting one.

Team of the Week: NAB League Boys – Round 13

BENDIGO Pioneers and Oakleigh Chargers have received the most nominations for the Draft Central Team of the Week for Round 13 in the NAB League Boys. All other sides have two players each in an even spread, with Dandenong Stingrays and Geelong Falcons the two exceptions (one player each) after heavy losses.

Bendigo’s forward duo of Seamus Mitchell and Jack Ginnivan both made the side along with ruck Aaron Gundry. Oakleigh’s trio of nominations occur in the forward half, with Dylan Williams and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan booting nine goals between them, while Reef McInnes also hit the scoreboard from the midfield. Their opponents Geelong had a sole representative in Charlie Lazzaro with the midfielder working hard defensively to pick up five rebounds and was named on the half-back flank. On the other half-back flank is Matt McGuinness who played in Tasmania Devils’ loss to Bendigo, named in the side with teammate Jackson Callow at the other end.

Other winners with two nominees include Calder Cannons who had Sam Ramsay and Jackson Cardillo both make the side, as did Eastern Ranges’ Mitch Mellis and forward Ben Hickleton. Northern Knights’ captain Jackson Davies and inside midfielder, Adam Carafa both made the team, as did Western Jets’ captain Lucas Rocci and overager Will Kennedy. The other side with just one sole nominee was Dandenong Stingrays, seeing Jack Toner‘s performance in his side’s loss earn him a spot in the 24-player team.

Gippsland Power defender Tye Hourigan and midfielder Sam Berry squeeze into the team once again, while Murray Bushrangers’ Jye Chalcraft backed up his Player of the Week nomination last round with another strong performance in Round 13. He and Will Christie are the two Bushrangers’ representatives with Christie rotating between defence and ruck. Sandringham Dragons welcomed back a number of Vic Metro representatives to the team over the weekend with two Metro players in Hugo Ralphsmith and captain Ryan Byrnes making the side.

NAB League Boys Round 13 wash-up: Cannons and Chargers go big

A TRULY mixed bag of results in Round 13 of the NAB League Boys competition saw a couple of close contests and a couple of blowouts, with returning representative stars once again stamping their mark. While ladder-leaders Eastern still sit pretty at the top, Western put a dent in Sandringham’s top four hopes with an upset win – seeing the two trade places. Arguably the biggest surprise win belonged to Northern though, going clear in eighth with a win over second places Gippsland. All that, and more in this week’s wash-up.

 

WESTERN JETS 3.2 | 4.4 | 12.5 | 12.7 (79)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.2 | 5.6 | 6.7 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Western: A. Clarke 3, L. Failli 3, A. Manton 2, H. White, W. Kennedy, L. Green, J. Horo.
Sandringham: C. Dean 2, H. Ralphsmith 2, B. O’Leary 2, R. Byrnes, F. Maginness, K. Yorke, J. Worrell.

BEST:

Western: W. Kennedy, C. Raak, J. Honey, J. Horo, B. Ryan, A. Clarke
Sandringham: H. Ralphsmith, L. Carrigan, J. Voss, N. Burke, B. O’Leary, C. Dean

Returning stars and a final term flurry were not enough to see Sandringham over the line as the Western Jets held on to win by nine points and send the Dragons out of the top four. Before the visitors roared home, a stalemate ensued in the first term as either side mustered 3.2 apiece, with Sandringham going on to break the cycle and skip out to an eight-point half time lead. The Dragons’ purple patch did not last for long though, as the Jets flew out of the blocks after the main break to pile on a whopping eight goals as the wind picked up. Undeterred, Sandringham hit back in the last but to no avail – relinquishing their top four position to the Jets but maintaining a formidable percentage. The Dragons’ representative guns stood up despite the loss, with Ryan Byrnes (28 disposals, five tackles, one goal), Finn Maginness (24, eight, one), and Louis Butler (23, five rebound 50s) leading all-comers in the ball winning stakes. The firepower of Charlie Dean, Hugo Ralphsmith and Blake O’Leary (all two goals) was not quite enough to outgun the eight goals between Western’s Aaron Clarke, Archi Manton, and bottom-ager Lucas Failli, as the Jets benefitted from some added efficiency in front of goal. Bailey Ryan (19 disposals, seven tackles) and Josh Honey (18, five marks) were the key ball-winners for Western, with ruckman Will Kennedy claiming best-afield honours against his former side for his 15 disposals, six marks, 33 hit-outs and one goal. Flying high, the Jets will get to enjoy a two-week break with back-to-back byes, while Sandringham will look to hit back against Dandenong in Round 14.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER 3.2 | 7.2 | 8.6 | 8.8 (56)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 3.4 | 7.4 | 11.6 | 15.9 (99)

GOALS:

Gippsland: T. Fitzpatrick 2, J. van der Pligt 2, Z. Skinner, T. Baldi, M. McGarrity, J. Hume.
Northern: J. D’Intinosante 4, S. Brazier 3, R. Sturgess 3, L. Potter, B. Nikolovski, N. Long, A. Carafa, S. Philp.

BEST:

Gippsland: T. Hourigan, S. Berry, M. Hawkins, M. McGarrity, J. van der Pligt, T. Rees
Northern: J. Davies, A. Carafa, L. Potter, R. Sturgess, J. D’Intinosante, C. Simonsen

The upset of the round came as Northern trumped the Gippsland Power by 43 points in enemy territory to go a game clear in eighth place. The Knights’ strength and flexibility across the ground proved the difference, with the likes of Josh D’Intinosante (four goals), Ryan Sturgess (three) and Sunny Brazier (three) all able to impact the game forward of centre with only around a dozen disposals each. After a very even first half that saw Northern lead by two points at the first two breaks, the Knights tightened the screws in defence to only concede the one goal after half time, while booting eight of their own to seal a big win. Adam Carafa and Sam Philp resumed their strong partnership in midfield to have 52 disposals between them, while Lachie Potter (23 disposals, one goal) was great on the outside and skipper Jackson Davies (23 disposals, eight rebounds) a rock down back. For Gippsland, Sam Berry continues to rack up possessions with another 21, followed closely by Tye Hourigan‘s 20. Jake van der Plight was also impactful with 19 disposals and two goals, with Tom Fitzpatrick Gippsland’s only other multiple goal kicker. Despite the loss, Gippsland remains second and will look to rebound against Tasmania on neutral territory next round. Meanwhile, the Knights will look to halt Murray’s top eight aspirations when they meet next time out.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.0 | 5.3 | 9.6 | 11.9 (75)
EASTERN RANGES 5.5 | 9.7 | 11.7 | 12.7 (79)

GOALS:

Murray: H. Kaak 3, J. Boyer 3, K. Chalcraft, E. Baxter, M. Holt, Z. Maher, W. Chandler.
Eastern: B. Hickleton 4, M. Mellis 2, C. Downie, H. Keeling, T. Edwards, C. Black, T. Hardstaff, M. Zalac.

BEST:

Murray: W. Christie, J. Chalcraft, Z. Barzen, S. Durham, Z. Maher, K. Chalcraft
Eastern: J. Nathan, B. Hickleton, B. McCormack, M. Mellis, C. Black, T. Garner

The Murray Bushrangers fell four points short of a remarkable second half comeback, going down to the ladder-leading Eastern Ranges in a tightly contested game. It was beginning to look elementary for Eastern early on as the Ranges put on 17 scoring shots to Murray’s eight to break to a 27-point half-time buffer. But the third term proved a breakthrough one for the Bushrangers, booting four goals to Eastern’s two to close within striking distance at just 13 points adrift. Another two goals to one was not enough to snatch the win though, with Eastern holding on for its ninth win from eleven games. While Joel Nathan was named best for the winners, Ben Hickleton (eight disposals, four goals) was efficient up the other end alongside Mitch Mellis (22 disposals, seven inside 50s, two goals) to make a profound impact. Zak Pretty matched Mellis’ disposal haul to lead the Ranges in that area, but was beaten out by Murray’s Jye Chalcraft – who led all-comers with 29. Ruckman Will Christie also stood tall with 19 disposals, eight marks, and 25 hit-outs, while Zane Barzen continues to mark everything (nine) and Zavier Maher (15 disposals, one goal) was also serviceable. The Bushrangers, who should cause some headaches for sides above them in the back end of the season, face Northern next for a chance to sneak into the eight, while Eastern hosts Oakleigh in a top four showdown.

 

CALDER CANNONS 4.2 | 9.3 | 10.4 | 17.5 (107)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.0 | 2.0 | 5.5 | 5.9 (39)

GOALS:

Calder: M. Fletcher 4, J. Sutton 2, H. Minton-Connell 2, J. O”Sullivan 2, N. Gentile 2, S. Paea 2, J. Cardillo, C. Brown, N. Stewart.
Dandenong: A. Williamson 3, W. Howe, J. Toner.

BEST:

Calder: J. Cardillo, S. Ramsay, M. Simpson, J. Sutton, C. Brown, N. Gentile
Dandenong: J. Toner, L. Williams, W. Bravo, P. Gerdan, R. Orchard, M. Gregory

Twelve goals at one end helped Calder to a comprehensive 68-point win over reigning premiers Dandenong at RAMS Arena, moving the Cannons above the Stingrays in the top eight. Seven final-quarter goals to nil really compounded the difference as the Cannons entered party mode late on, enjoying the wind advantage after Dandenong had managed three goals to one in the previous term. There simply was not enough firepower for the Stingrays, with bottom-ager Ashton Williamson claiming three of their five goals for the game and the effects of a stripped core showing as players were forced to perform out of position. Jack Toner stood up with 28 disposals and eight marks, while Lachlan Williams (23 disposals, five inside 50s) was good through defence and midfield, and Will Bravo (16 disposals, four marks) was also solid. For the winners, Mason Fletcher was outstanding up forward with his four majors and lead-up marking, while five other Cannons also managed to bag multiple goals. Sam Ramsay was prolific in the engine room with 32 disposals alongside Jackson Cardillo (27, nine tackles), while Curtis Brown (22 disposals, one goal) was effective off half-back and Ned Gentile (23, two) continues to be consistent. Calder will look to climb further up the table in its next fixture against Bendigo, while Dandenong will need to lift if it is to compete with Sandringham next round as both sides welcome back representative players.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS 2.0 | 4.3 | 5.6 | 5.7 (37)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.4 | 3.7 | 6.10 | 9.12 (66)

GOALS:

Tasmania: J. Lane 2, J. Callow 2, R. Mansell.
Bendigo: J. Ginnivan 3, S. Mitchell 3, J. Dick-O’Flaherty 2, J. Rodi.

BEST:

Tasmania: M. McGuinness, J. Callow, O. Davis, O. Shaw, J. Barwick, S. Collins
Bendigo: A. Gundry, S. Mitchell, N. Walsh, J. Ginnivan, W. Wallace, R. Clarke

The Bendigo Pioneers got one back on the Tasmania Devils after a narrow Round 7 loss, this time running out 29-point winners on home turf. It was no easy task for the Pio’s, who overcame a slender half time deficit to run home strong. That came on the back of six goals to one after the main break, with Bendigo well and truly clicking into gear when it mattered most. Bottom-agers Jack Ginnivan and Seamus Mitchell each booted three goals to contribute two thirds of their side’s score, while Jake Dick-O’Flaherty claimed two to round out Bendigo’s multiple goal kickers. Sam Conforti found some good form to collect 24 disposals, while the Pioneer’s fourth goal kicker, Jeremy Rodi, had 23 touches and the James Schischka and Ben Worme again combined for over 45 disposals. Aaron Gundry was named best though for his 17 disposals and 24 hit-outs, while Matt McGuinness claimed the same honour for Tasmania – collecting a game-high 34 disposals, eight marks, and 11 rebounds. Bottom-agers Ollie Davis and Sam Collins were the next best with 19 touches each, while Jackson Callow dominated the air with 18 disposals, eight marks and two goals. With the two sides swapping ladder spots, Bendigo is set to face a firing Calder Cannons side, while Tasmania opens Round 14 against Gippsland.

 

GEELONG FALCONS 2.3 | 3.3 | 5.4 | 6.6 (42)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 5.4 | 10.6 | 14.8 | 20.9 (129)

GOALS:

Geelong: C. Sprague 3, M. Lord, C. Karpala, O. Henry.
Oakleigh: D. Williams 5, J. Ugle-Hagan 4, T. Bianco 2, B. Laurie 2, R. McInnes 2, C. Sharman 2, T. Graham, J. Ayton-Delaney, T. Lovell.

BEST:

Geelong: C. Lazzaro, N. Gribble, C. Fleeton, C. Sprague, H. Whyte, O. Henry
Oakleigh: R. McInnes, D. Williams, J. Ugle-Hagan, T. Bianco, T. Graham, V. Zagari

All of Oakleigh’s top-end guns fired as the Chargers easily accounted for a depleted Geelong Falcons side by 87 points to see out the round. Returning co-captains Dylan Williams (five goals) and Trent Bianco (24 disposals, two goals) were fantastic, with a raft of bottom and top-age talents helping Oakleigh to their big win. Bottom-agers Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (four goals) and Reef McInnes (29 disposals, two goals) did their best to live up to the standard set by Williams and Bianco, with over-ager Thomas Graham (24 disposals, 23 hitouts, one goal) monstrous in the ruck and Kaden Schreiber handball-happy with 25 among his 29 disposals. For Geelong, Charlie Sprague‘s three goals were a shining light, while bottom-agers Charlie Lazzaro (23 disposals, four rebound 50s), Noah Gribble (20 disposals, five marks), Cameron Fleeton (19 disposals, seven marks) and Henry Walsh (11 disposals, 26 hitouts) gave a glimpse of the future. Desperate for form, a meeting with GWV Rebels is next for Geelong, while Oakleigh will be red hot heading into its top four clash with table-toppers, Eastern.